ABC’s ‘Shark Tank‘ season 14 episode 8 witnessed entrepreneurs Chaz and Whitney Gates present their unorthodox wine company, Wondry Wines, hoping for a massive investment from the Sharks. Today’s wine industry is very careful about its exclusivity and is quite reluctant to break out of the orthodox mold in order to cater to people who want something different. That is where Wondry Wines comes in with their unorthodox and innovative fruit-infused wines that contain twice the amount of alcohol and offer a different out-of-the-box experience. As the beverage industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally, Wondry Wines caught our attention with their product, and we decided to jump in and find out more!
Wondry Wines: Who Are They and What Do They Do?
Chaz Gates completed his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff before going on to pursue a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University. Although Chaz graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2008, he was determined to study further and eventually earned his Doctor of Law degree from the American University Washington College of Law in 2013. Additionally, he completed a semester overseas at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Even before completing his education, Chaz embarked on an illustrious professional career as he served as a Legislative Assistant at the U.S. House of Representatives from August 2005 to 2008.
In 2008 he joined the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics as a Lecturer, but ultimately moved back to the United States and became an associate at White & Case LLP in 2013. In the years that followed, Chaz held several prestigious positions, including serving as a Finance and Banking Associate at Winstead PC, Assistant Vice President at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Legal Counsel for Texas Instruments. Eventually, Chaz co-established Wondry Wine in August 2021 and presently works as the company’s Chief Operations Officer.
Meanwhile, Whitney completed her BSBA in marketing from Washington University in St. Louis and went on to earn an MBA in brand management and marketing consulting from the same institution. Similar to her husband, Whitney has also enjoyed an incredible professional career, as apart from serving in various roles at General Mills, she has worked with top-level brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé Purina North America, and The Coca-Cola Company, among others. In 2019, she was made the Brand Manager of 7UP at Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc., and her experience in the beverage industry helped a lot when she co-founded Wondry Wines and began functioning as the Chief Executive Officer.
While on the show, Whitney Gates mentioned that she had numerous childhood memories of her uncle making wine from different fruits, no matter what the traditional wine experience was supposed to feel like. While the memories of her family sitting around sipping wine and swapping stories were some of the happiest she had ever experienced, Whitney did not like how closed-off and orthodox the wine industry likes to be. Whitney mentioned that most proper high-quality wines are exclusive, out of the reach of regular people, and do not cater to taste buds of all kinds.
Determined to break out of such a mold, she and her husband, Chaz, came up with the idea of Wondry Wines, which allowed them to explore different flavors and offer innovative, affordable, and approachable wines. Setting itself apart from the orthodox wine industry, Wondry Wines are a sweeter version of the beloved beverage with almost double the alcohol content. They come in several varieties and are all crafted from natural and organic fruit extracts without a single hint of artificial flavoring. Besides, Chaz and Whitney are proud of Wondry Wines being a completely black-owned business with all of their products brewed in-house in Dallas.
Where is Wondry Wines Now?
When asked about the intention behind creating Wondry Wines, Chaz and Whitney stressed the importance of innovation and said, “With Wondry, we intend to disrupt traditional wine thinking. From our uniquely designed bottles to our organic fruit infusions to our heightened alcohol content, we exist to re-imagine the wine experience.” They further claimed that since there was little to no innovation in the wine industry, they intended to come up with new flavors and provide an incredible experience that would unify all kinds of wine drinkers. Although the couple started their business right in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown, they found a facility and installed wine-making equipment without much delay. Besides, readers will be interested to know that Whitney was seven months pregnant while starting the business, but she did not let such a condition keep her from pushing for further success.
Thankfully, Wondry Wines’ launch was a massive success as the beverage received rave reviews from most of its customers. Moreover, while Whitney and Chaz have been featured in several prestigious publications and T.V. shows, their wines have won several silver and bronze medals at the Lone Star International Wine Competition in 2021 and 2022. Besides, with Wondry Wines now available in Target and Total Wine stores, their revenue increased exponentially; as Chaz explained, “We get feedback not only from consumers but from retailers. The retailers are telling us we have far exceeded their expectations. And not only that, but we’re outpacing a lot of the big boys who have been in the business, the larger wine companies. So we’re small, but we’re punching above our weight.”
Customers interested in sampling Wondry Wines products can purchase them off their website, Target, Total Wine Stores, or several brick-and-mortar stores in the Greater Dallas Area, with the price ranging between $15 to $24. Additionally, the company sells bottle stoppers, gift cards, and t-shirts, while a few drinks are available in combo packs which offer greater discounts. While Chaz and Whitney are looking forward to expanding their business, they also plan to use part of their profit to help other black-owned businesses. Wondry Wines’ success has been exemplary to this day, and we are sure that the company will grow tenfold in the future.
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